History and Legacy Beckon for National Hunt Racing Horses This Spring
In the unique world of national hunt racing in the British Isles, the early spring (or, depending on your perspective, the late winter) is an exciting time for fans. It’s a time of rampant speculation, as horses who have emerged with credit from the gruelling winter months get set for the climax of the season at the Cheltenham Festival and Aintree Grand National Festival.
As with all great racing festivals, those mentioned above act as more than singular events; they act as milestones, rewarding the hard work that has gone in throughout the season and, indeed, throughout careers.
This year, however, there is a lot of talk about history and legacy, as a handful of star horses race not only against their peers, but also against the record books. It has made for a feverish atmosphere among the racing fans and punters, who are counting down the days until the Cheltenham Festival (10th-13th March) and the Grand National (4th April).
First off, we must mention Tiger Roll. The two-time Grand National winner is the favourite to win a third in April, a feat which will emulate the legendary Red Rum. But he also has business at the Cheltenham Festival, where he will be aiming for a 5th festival win and a third victory in the Cross Country Chase.
Tiger Roll has two goals
Tiger Roll’s reputation ensures he will be a popular bet, but the current price of 5/4 (Bet365) might fluctuate if his connections prioritise the Grand National. To keep abreast of those price movements, you’ll find all the very best Cheltenham odds listed on the Freebets website in the run-up to, and during, the festival.
As for the Grand National, Tiger Roll is a best-price of 6/1 with William Hill. This is a race, however, in which punters must keep their emotions in check. Everyone wants to see Tiger Roll make history, but his preparation hasn’t been just as good as in previous years.
While Tiger Roll could rightly steal all the headlines, there is another horse in pursuit of an arguably tougher feat – Altior. Nicky Henderson’s superstar won 19 consecutive races over a four-year period, taking in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Arkle Chase and two Queen Mother Champion Chase victories.
Altior back on form
Altior heads off to Cheltenham in pursuit of his third Champion Chase and a chance to equal the record of Badsworth Boy. For once, however, there are a few doubts over his candidacy as favourite. We can find odds of 2/1 for him with Betfair, but Defi Du Seuil (9/4) and Chacun Pour Soi (11/4) are taking on plenty of money. Regardless, the three-way tussle looks set to give us one of the most-anticipated races in modern times.
Finally, we have one of the most popular horses of the 21st century – Faugheen. As any experienced horse handler will tell you, sometimes we meet rare mounts with what could only be described as a magnetic personality; something special that can’t really be put into words. Faugheen is like that and has become an icon among jockeys, trainers and fans.
Of course, Faugheen is not all personality; at one point he was considered the best hurdler about, culminating in the stunning 2015 Champion Hurdle victory. At the grand old age of 12, he has switched to chasing, winning three from three so far. He will contest the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham, where he looks like going off the favourite (7/1 with Betfair). If he wins, on what might be his final bow at Cheltenham, expect an emotional reaction from the adoring crowd.